Holiday Safety Tips from Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad

Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad (PFARS) urges families throughout our community to enjoy a safe and happy holiday season by brushing up on home safety tips that will help minimize risks and hazards.

“With all the decorations, cooking, and activities that come with the holidays, it is important to be safe while also having fun. Taking a few simple and preventative steps can keep your holiday festivities from going from joyful to tragic this season,” said PFARS Chief Matt Stiff.

Starting from December into the new year, hospitals and emergency departments tend to see a sharp increase in accidents and injuries relating to the holidays. According to American Medical Response, the number of cardiac deaths is higher on December 25 than any other day of the year, second highest on December 26, and third highest on January 1. The risk rises due to holiday stress, over-exertion, skipping medications and dietary mistakes. Accidental burns from cooking, falling from a ladder, and allergic reactions from food choices can sometimes lead to injuries and even hospitalization.

Decorate Safely

When decorating follow these tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Keep potentially poisonous plants – mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry and amaryllis – away from children
  • If using an artificial tree, check that it is labeled “fire resistant”
  • If using a live tree, cut off about two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption, remember to water it and remove it from your home when it is dry
  • Place your tree at least three feet away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources, making certain not to block doorways
  • Avoid placing breakable ornaments or ones with small, detachable parts on lower tree branches where small children or pets can reach them
  • Only use indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights outdoors, and choose the right ladder for the task when hanging lights. Ladders are responsible for hundreds of holiday-related fall injuries every year. When hanging Christmas lights outdoors, be sure that the ladder is on a steady, dry surface. Clear the area of things that might cause the ladder to fall over, and wear non-skid shoes.
  • Replace light sets that have broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections
  • Follow the package directions on the number of light sets that can be plugged into one socket
  • Never nail, tack or stress wiring when hanging lights and keep plugs off the ground away from puddles and snow
  • Turn off all lights and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house

Make Food Safety a Priority

Good food goes hand-in-hand with good company during holiday celebrations. And good food starts with safe preparation and ends with proper leftover storage to reduce the potential for food poisoning and other safety concerns. Consider these simple tips for handling food safely:

  • Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces frequently when preparing or handling food
  • Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from other foods
  • Cook food until it reaches a safe temperature. Keep food hot (140° F or above) after cooking if you aren’t serving it right away.
  • Store leftovers properly by refrigerating perishable foods within two hours.
  • Don’t forget to consider the eating abilities of young children when preparing their holiday food. Foods like grapes, hot dogs, and raw vegetables should be cut into age-appropriate sizes to reduce choking hazards

Stay Safe on the Roads

If you’re traveling by car during the holidays, you are at greater risk of injury or fatality than other forms of transportation. You might encounter weather hazards, increased traffic on the roads, and distracted or impaired drivers along your route.

  • Prepare your vehicle for winter weather conditions in your area
  • Stock an emergency kit in your car, complete with a first aid kit, vehicle emergency supplies (e.g. jumper cables), flashlight and batteries, warm clothes, nonperishable foods, and drinking water
  • Avoid drowsy or impaired driving and remove distractions such as cell phone use
  • Check the weather conditions and planning accordingly

Take Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Seriously

Carbon monoxide is a “silent killer” as it is odorless and colorless, and poses a real risk all year long. However, during the holiday months, people might unintentionally put themselves in harm’s way when trying to heat their home or vehicle. Protect your family by installing carbon monoxide detectors (as well as smoke alarms) in your home. In addition:

  • Don’t leave your car running in your garage
  • Don’t use a gas range or oven to heat your home
  • Don’t use a generator in an enclosed space
  • Don’t forget to have your fuel-burning appliances and chimney serviced annually.

Give Safely

Gifts and toys should inspire joy, not cause injuries. Thousands of children are seriously injured in toy-related incidents every year. Avoid safety hazards while gifting with these tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Toys are age-rated for safety, not for children’s intellect and physical ability, so be sure to choose toys in the correct age range
  • Choose toys for children under 3 that do not have small parts which could be choking hazards
  • For children under 10, avoid toys that must be plugged into an electrical outlet
  • Be cautious about toys that have button batteries or magnets, which can be harmful or fatal if swallowed
  • When giving scooters and other riding toys, give the gift of appropriate safety gear, too; helmets should be worn at all times and they should be sized to fit
  • Stay up to date on holiday toy recalls

Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad wishes you and your family a safe and happy holiday season! Find out how you can get involved as a volunteer member. Applications are currently being accepted for spring, summer, and fall 2023 training programs at